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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

12. Armageddon will not be Televised

This week – a gloomy rant…

I enjoy a pacey paranoid action movie as much as the next person.  Give me Bruce Willis saving the world at the last second with a self-satisfied smile any day over another Jane Austen adaptation. Show me silver screen worlds exploding in Technicolor, tidal waves engulfing everyone apart from the main character plus love interest, asteroids missing the earth with only meters to spare, sudden freezes that only the good-looking survive. Dish up alien invasions from creatures able to cross galaxies but unable to anticipate a sucker punch from Will Smith. Tremendous. In reality the four horsemen of the apocalypse aren’t galloping out of the gates of hell on their white, red, black and pale green stallions, they are plodding about even now on knackered old nags in a dull, bored way because frankly they’ve nothing to do.

Is it too extreme to suggest that the woman parading down the high street with the $1,000+ designer handbag may as well be walking round with a sick child under her arm? Might the guy driving the sports car fuelled from products that could have fed people, just as well line up twenty sub-Saharan villagers and run them over? Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic for this blog space especially when theorising that Armageddon could be a surprisingly limp affair. All I’m suggesting is that like a Hollywood blockbuster, the event in all probability will not live up to the testosterone-charged trailers. It may just be a metaphorical dismal couple of hours in the dark where nothing significant happens and then it’s over.

It’s not that designer stuff is intrinsically bad nor is the fast car or any number of things that we don’t need; it’s just that life has a very simple equation to offer us, one we are constantly told is more complicated than it is. If some folk have too much others get too little. Let me say that again – if some folk have too much other folk have too little. There is no getting round it or under it. There is a connection between some people owning three cars and living in mansions and other people living on less than a dollar a day. Why does saying that feel like claiming moon is made of cheese? Perhaps because vast amounts of energy and money go into maintaining the more comfortable collective falsehood that there is no direct connection. We believe the world somehow got so complicated that 2+2 no longer = 4. But is it an unfathomable mystery that desperate farmers grow cash crops such as tobacco and coffee instead of food for their families?          

During the Blair affair with Britain we got used to the phrase “difficult decisions” which was euphemism for ‘the wrong decisions made in the face of the absolutely bloody obvious’. Though he was not the first to employ this euphemism it settled, through persistent use, as a staple of political rhetoric. In the same way that Cameron’s “I’m absolutely clear on this” as double speak for ‘this may sound like bollocks but I’m saying it anyway’ is bedding in. The idea that things are way more complicated than logic or common sense suggest is a notion we are force fed to steer us away from seeing that the emperor is wearing no clothes. The brother in arms of this falsehood is that someone who makes ‘difficult decisions’ is off the moral hook.  Sister to these two bastards is the notion that ‘there isn’t anything we can do’.

Let us deal with the first tired old horseman representing conquest and social inequality. Has there ever been an era where inequality has, in the light of our knowledge and technical skills, been more inexcusable? What I’m saying is that if our Victorian forebears could see that it was wrong, it’s got to be more wrong now. Close to home, how many of us have considered, when choosing a bank or law firm, checking what proportion of senior employees are state educated before giving them our business? I’m state educated and I haven’t.

As for war – there are more conflicts raging round the world than you could shake a stick at – using more sophisticated technology and on-going for reasons that defy not just ethical considerations but basic common sense. Death and disease are bestial bedfellows and never more so because we know so much about preventing and avoiding much of the disease that leads to premature death. Do you need to say more than that we have Viagra but no cure for Aids? The new strains of deadly malaria were upon us without adequate medicines when we’d known for years that they were heading our way or at least their way. Now that aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery is spoken of as if it’s as normal as going to the dentist, it seems outlandish to ask why personal or public resources are being spent in this direction when children die in obscene numbers for want of a diarrhoea tablet costing pence. When I was last asked my opinion on animal testing I had to say I might be more positive about it if the medicines and knowledge we already have were being used to their full effect and for everyone.

Stuff Botox and ‘shopping therapy’, if you want to feel better about the life you have, spend a week in a refugee camp and it’s likely you will have a very rosy view of your existence when you return. You may even have younger looking skin; certainly you might lose some weight. Meanwhile the bees are not pollinating properly, the ice caps are reducing, the coral reefs are dying and a huge percentage of preventable western disease is the result of affluence. The system we idolatrise is based on shoring up this monstrosity. It is ultimate pyramid selling and the pyramid is one of humanity. The world will not go out with a bang but a whimper. The four horsemen of the apocalypse returned to their hellish caverns a long time ago and are playing scrabble to pass the time. We have unemployed them.  The world is already the cancer patient in denial still puffing away on that cigarette. Armageddon will not be televised because it will not happen in a sudden identifiable place or time, it will not be dramatic and it will not star Bruce Willis. It is happening now in a bland, slow, miserable way. If you stand still you can sometimes smell it in the air, sense the paradigm shift, feel it like a depression.  At some point we will become aware that we recognise the plot and the narrative is near the end but there will be no one around to see the credits roll.

Sorry this was going to be a mainly comedy blog so in the interests of humour and more randomness, next week will be a fabulous Euphemism competition with hugely desirable prize.

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